Simple Mac Salad

2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked (1/2 lb)
1/2 cup quality mayonnaise
1 tsp salt
2 tsp carrot, shredded (optional)

Makes about 4 half-Plate servings

In a large pot, bring 1/2 gallon of water to a rolling boil, then add salt and macaroni.  Add the macaroni and stir until the pot returns to a boil. Cook uncovered until the pasta is soft but not mushy (a little past al dente) – about 7 1/2 to 8 minutes.  To chill the pasta, immediately drain the hot water out using a large colander, then pour the cooked macaroni into another large pot filled with ice-cold water (but no ice).  Stir the macaroni until completely chilled, then drain the water out and allow the elbows to dry.  When ready to serve, stir in the mayonnaise until evenly coated.

PRO TIP: For mac salad that won't absorb the dressing and "dry out", store the wet chilled pasta in a ziploc bag overnight.

This macaroni is intentionally simple which will allow it to take on the other flavors of the Plate rather than compete with them – resist the urge to doctor it up.  Mac salad is best served chilled, so use the cold-water bath and/or prepare it ahead of time to give the pasta some time in the refrigerator.  Do not stir in the mayonnaise until the last minute, since it will have a tendency to soak into the pasta after a while.